Fireworks can be dazzling all by themselves no matter where they are set off, but put them over the waters of Lake Tahoe and the "oooh" factor is multiplied.
Every Independence Day, the communities of Lake Tahoe go all out to provide some of the best displays in the country, including the show listed among the top five by the American Pyrotechnic Association "Lights on the Lake."
That one will be set off from a barge off South Lake Tahoe by the Edgewood Golf Course at 9:45 p.m. Wednesday. There are several vantage points for viewing, such as Nevada Beach just north of Edgewood, Timber Cove Marina, Bijou Community Park, the Tallac Historic Site, and from the decks of the Tahoe Queen and M.S. Dixie paddlewheelers. Arrive early for any of these locations.
North Lake Tahoe is unique in that there is a series of fireworks and it's possible to enjoy more than one show. Kings Beach, for instance, will set off a display just off its shores around 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday, the eve of Independence Day. There also is a deck party celebration at the North Tahoe Event Center beginning at 6 p.m. with live music ($15). Tahoe City lights up July 4 at 9:30 p.m. just off Commons Beach which is, along with the town's many lakeside restaurants, a favorite viewing spot.
Incline Village celebrates the holiday all week with "Red, White, and Tahoe Blue," which features a patriotic chalk drawing contest, a tribute to veterans, a static display by the California Air National Guard, and the fireworks Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. off Incline Beach.
Truckee has its traditional family parade at 10 a.m. along Donner Pass Road and fireworks at West End Beach of Donner Lake after dusk Wednesday.
Reno traditionally sets off the rockets from three rooftops, but there has been no announcement so far this year. Better to play it safe in the valley and head for Star-Spangled Sparks, which is the largest offering anyhow. The evening follows a day of family events at Sparks Marina. The fireworks display is off the two towers of John Ascuaga's Nugget and is preceded by street events in Victorian Square, including a large kids area, and free entertainment by the Whitney Meyer Band (she was a contestant on "The Voice" this past season) and the Mark Sexton Band from 4:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Parking always is an issue for major Victorian Square events, and it will be alleviated somewhat this year with free round-trip shuttles from Legends at Sparks Marina, pickups starting at 6 p.m. at the lot between Fuddruckers and Popeyes.
The Sparks Marina is also the location Saturday and Sunday of the Xtreme Beach Sports Festival, combining the EVP Volleyball Tour and the UWP Watercross Tour.
Reno's Artown (31 days of the arts in July) will begin Sunday with a session in true Grateful Dead fashion one of the group's drummers, Mickey Hart, and a community drum circle.
How many opportunities are there to drum with a legend? Those who want to participate are requested to bring their own drums and join Hart in Reno's Idlewild Park from 3 to 6 p.m. (Interstate 80 East to Keystone Exit, stay right to Riverside Drive, turn right across the river, then right on Idlewild). That evening the Mickey Hart Band will perform at 7:30 p.m. in Wingfield Park as part of its "Mysterium Tremendum Tour" preceded by the drum group Envision at 6:30 (free).
Artown traditionally opens with an interactive event, but this is one of the best in its 17-year history. The closing night is nothing to be sneezed at, either, with Maceo Parker performing for free in Wingfield Park at 7:30 p.m. July 31.
In between are more than 500 events and exhibitions, several festivals within the festival, and 100 workshops. More than 300,000 people showed up for last year's Artown.
A few highlights this year include the Monday night Family Series ("Curiosity Cat" on Monday; Erth's Dinosaur Petting Zoo on July 9; BAM Percussion's "The Blue Barrel Show" on July 16; "Concert for Kids" on July 23; and the "Let's Go Science Show" July 30.
The World Music Series on Wednesdays in Wingfield Park is featuring a patriotic evening of music for the Fourth of July on Wednesday, Delhi 2 Dublin on July 11, Oliver Mtukudzi & the Black Spirits on July 18, and Spanish language rapper Ana Tijoux on July 25.
Special ticketed events this year begin July 14 with Michael Feinstein celebrating the Great American Songbook at John Ascuaga's Nugget (9 p.m.; $69; renoisartown.com); the Preservation Hall Jazz Band 50th anniversary celebration with guests the Del McCoury Band and the Trey McIntyre Project on July 15 at the Grand Sierra (8 p.m.; $30, $45, $60); "Cowboy Up" with the Reno Philharmonic, balladeer Don Edwards, and poet Waddie Mitchell, July 22 at the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts (7 p.m.; $26-$66); and Chanticleer, the multiple Grammy-winning all-male ensemble, July 27 at the Nugget (9 p.m.; $35).
Artown next week is also highlighted by "Pops at the Ranch" at the Hawkins Amphitheater at Bartley Ranch, Monday at 7:30 p.m. with the Reno Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus.
Out and about
As their music styles fade away, some major artists face ridicule in the ensuing decade. So it's been with MC Hammer and many of his counterparts. Few have endured the endless parody (especially of his "U Can't Touch This"), but few are as talented onstage as ever. There's a reason MC Hammer keeps getting booked, as he is this Saturday at the Silver Legacy, and that's the fact his show is fun. (8 p.m.; $45, $59.50; 800-687-8733 or silverlegacy.com).
There is a super accumulation of solid bands Saturday night at Jackson Rancheria with their "Blues Balls of Fire," featuring Foghat, the Fabulous Thunderbirds and Canned Heat, the last two heading into the mountains from last week's blues festival in Reno. (7:30 p.m.; $40, $80, $100; JacksonCasino.com).
The concert is part of the "Rockin' Blues and Country Weekend," which also includes a concert by Sara Evans on Sunday (7:30 p.m.; $40, $80, $100).
The Lake Tahoe Reggae Festival is set for Saturday at the MontBleu Casino Resort's new outdoor amphitheater. The all-day event will feature reggae/dub/rock band Pepper, New Zealand's Katchafire, Hawaiian reggae artist J Boog, Hot Rain, Keyser Soze, the Mark Sexton Band and Sacramento's Squarefield Massive ($39; 775-588-3515 or Ticketmaster).
The fireworks display is off the two towers of John Ascuaga's Nugget and is preceded by street events in Victorian Square, including a large kids area, and free entertainment by the Whitney Meyer Band and the Mark Sexton Band from 4:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Carson Valley Inn Cabaret Lounge: After Dark, through Saturday; Paul Covarelli, July 1-2; The Motifs, Tuesday-July 7. (775) 782-9711.
Eldorado, Reno High Desert Racing Association's Eldorado Fireworks 500 race, Sunday-July 8. Convention Center: Kellie Pickler, July 6; Kansas, July 20. Showroom: "Man in the Mirror," through Aug. 3. (800) 648-5966.
Harrah's Reno-Sammy's Showroom: "Persuasion," Thursdays-Sundays, through Sept. 29. Comedy at The Zone: Joe Fontenot, through Saturday. (800) 427-7247.
Harrah's Lake Tahoe South Shore Room: Nathan Owens Motown Legends, today-Monday, Thursday-July 8. (800) 427-7247.
Harveys, Lake Tahoe Improv: Tommy Savitt, Chuck Martin, through Sunday; Kivi Rogers, Frances Dilorinzo, Wednesday-July 8. (800) 427-8397.
Horizon, Lake Tahoe Illusion Fusion starring Alex Ramon, Thursdays-Tuesdays, continuing. (775) 588-6211.
MontBleu Resort, Lake Tahoe Lake Tahoe Reggae Festival featuring Pepper, Katchafire, J Boog, Hot Rain, Keyser Soze, and The Mark Sexton Band, Saturday. MontBleu Theatre: The Comedians From Chelsea Lately, Brad Wollack, Josh Wolf, and Jen Kirkman, July 7. (888) 829-7630.
Silver Legacy, Reno Grande Exposition Hall: MC Hammer, Saturday. . (800) 687-8733.